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Difference between SOAP and REST API?

by Dhanik Lal Sahni

SOAP and REST APIs are the two most commonly used APIs. Before developing we have to understand capability of both APIs. This post will explain difference between SOAP and REST API so that we can decide which API we should proceed.  

SOAP( Simple Object Access Protocol) is an XML-based messaging protocol for exchanging information between systems and applications. SOAP is a communication protocol designed to communicate via the Internet. SOAP API is extensible, neutral, and independent.

REST is a set of architectural principles attuned to the needs of lightweight web services and mobile applications. Because it’s a set of guidelines, it leaves the implementation of these recommendations to developers.

SOAP and REST can’t be compared directly, since the first is a protocol and the second is an architectural style. The main difference between SOAP and REST is the degree of coupling between client and server implementations. A SOAP client is tightly coupled to the server. There’s a rigid contract between client and server, and everything is expected to break if either side changes anything.

A REST client knows how to use a protocol and standardized methods, and an application has to fit inside that. We don’t violate the protocol standards by creating extra methods. We leverage the standard methods and create the actions with them on our media type. If done right, there’s less coupling, and changes can be dealt with more gracefully. 

The major difference between SOAP and REST API include:

Features SOAP API REST API
Standard SOAP API has official standards because it’s a protocol. REST API has no official standards because it’s an architectural style of coding and tags.
Standard SOAP only operates with HTTP and XML standards REST API uses multiple standards, such as URL and HTTP
Functionality SOAP uses a different interface to perform operations through a standardized set of messaging patterns REST accesses data through a consistent interface with names of resources
Business logic SOAP API uses service interfaces like @WebService REST API uses a URL interface like @path(“ /CricketService“)
Bandwidth SOAP uses XML to create a payload that results in large file sizes REST API takes up little bandwidth and resources
Language SOAP API uses Web Services Description language to describe service REST API uses Web Application Description Language to describe service.
Rules Rules for SOAP are very important because we can’t reach any level of standardization without them REST is more flexible but it also requires standardization.
Performance and Scalability SOAP-based reads cannot be cached. REST has better performance and scalability. REST reads can be cached.
Security SOAP is more secure and uses WS-Security for enterprise-level security. REST is less secure than SOAP API.
Reliable Messaging SOAP provides asynchronous processing and a guaranteed level of reliability and security. Rest doesn’t have a standard messaging system and the client has to handle reliability.
Atomic Transaction If we need ACID in the transaction, we have to use SOAP API REST API does not support ACID.
Data Format It supports XML data message It supports JSON data.

Summary

REST API should be used when communication is done using HTTP and a small payload is required. SOAP should be used when Enterprise-level security is required with structured data.

References:

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